I promise that not all my blog posts will take three or even 4 posts to tell the whole story but heck Madrid is a really big cuidad with a population of you know LOTS of People so the story is bound to take a few posts to tell, besides what else do you have to do in your life but sit back and listen to me babble for awhile…so put on your robe, get yourself a cup of coffee and take a break for a while and join me while we explore more of Madrid with the Griswold’s (oops I meant the Norwood’s) because you know what-we are just really funny people when we travel together.
Our story continues with us finally finding a parking garage where we see see the sign ‘”P” “Libre”‘ (refer to last post, last image). Me to Robert-I think that means Free Parking so let’s go for it. Robert to Me-don’t care what it means, we are parking here and walking to every dang thing here in town so let’s go for it, no matter what it costs!” Now what you don’t know is what we are driving-a cute little Silver Hyundai stick shift with 6 gears with a cute little European license plate. (Image to come later as the one I have is on Robert’s iPhone and he will kill me if I wake him up at 5:30am to figure out how to download it for this post. (The man gets kinda grumpy in the morning if he doesn’t get his beauty sleep) Anyway, I digress. I am not driving this thing or we would have just whipped that sucker into the parking space in no time flat but I swear it takes 4… mind you 4 three points turns for Robert to get this itty bitty little car in its parking space. I kid you not! OMG, it’s a wonder that my kids learned how to parallel park. So, after getting the car into the spot, getting the camera equipment and everything else we need out, we have a discussion about the word “Salida” (exit for all you non-Spanish speaking people out there) and determine which way is out of this parking disaster)
As we start upstairs, and walk by the parking ticket counter Robert gets the brilliant idea that he should probably go back to the car and get our ticket so we can pay when we get back and I get the even more brilliant idea that I should attempt to ask the kid (this is where I get to pick on the youth of Espana for a bit) who is probably about 20 years old, where the heck are we in relationship to a couple places where we want to go. Ok, readers-this is called Orienteering 101. Determine location, then determine location where you wish to travel to, next orient your map in said direction and figure the Heck out how to get back to said location or you will be LOST! I learned that my first year of marriage to 2nd Lt. Norwood when we attended Jane Wayne day in Quantico and they gave us a compass and a map and tried to get us wives lost. BTW, I’m a retired Girl Scout and our motto is “Be Prepared” or something like that…so I don’t get LOST! Well, maybe I do, but don’t tell Robert… Back to story, back to story…I decide while I am waiting, I will ask the kid behind the counter to show me on our map where we are and then find out how we need to get to the Plaza Mayor. No big deal right! One would have thought I asked this kid to define Newton’s Law of Gravity. OMG, what are they teaching Spanish kids in school today. Now this is a true story people…he takes my map from me and at first he locates the area where we are located (good first start) doesn’t find what he is looking for and then proceeds to put his finger on the upper northeast corner of Madrid (outside of the city freakin’ limits) and starts looking for the Plaza Mayor. I hear you all gasping with me, right?! Is this kid that dumb…in the meantime I am trying to come up with the words in Spanish…Lo Siento, I am a dummy, I turned my map over to another dummy and that was just stupid, please give me my map back and I will figure it out myself and btw, does your mother know that you can’t read a stinkin’ city map! But I can’t get past the words (Plaza Mayor, mas abajo) The whole time he is trying to locate this, he is also taking money from other patrons of the killer parking garage and finally Robert just says in his nicest American voice-hey, Senor, give me the map back, we will figure it out. So much for public relations between Spain and America, we (meaning Roberto) have single handedly moved us back several decades in detente. But it’s all good, we get the map back, we walk upstairs and I take a picture of this image.
Ok, I have found another use for your expensive digital camera or even for your iPhone when traveling abroad. Take a picture of something close to where you left your car as a visual reminder and then when you are trying to talk to someone when you find yourself lost (and BTW, you WILL find yourself lost) you can instantly show the picture and voila, your butt will be saved. However, there are probably many police stations in downtown Madrid so I went one even better than this. Check this out, all you Marines out there reading this! Booyah…
So now we know where we are starting from (the corner of Calle de Silva and Gran Via) and what is located on said corner-a McDonalds. Be still my beating heart! Something I know and because we are that hungry and they have free WiFi (where would we be w/o free wifi) we saunter in and order us up some food. Thankfully the girl behind the counter spoke pretty good English so she was spared my horrible first attempt at ordering food in Spain. Check out the menu!
Bellies satisfied, we are now able to start out on our Madrid sightseeing tour. Madrid is similar to other major European metropolisis (is that even a word?) People everywhere on a Saturday, cars hustling by, street vendors selling their wares and local artists trying to make a living. Check out this guy!
Now, that takes patience. Unlike the Bobbies in the UK guarding the Queen, you can see this guy’s eyes blink. Creepy! Very creepy!
We finally wander over every cobblestone road we can find and wind up at the Plaza Mayor where we locate where we want to live one day ‘cuz Robert would like to live in a loft some day and there were places for “Se vende” which means in English “I am available to buy, but you got no dinero, man”
Check out the this place. Every European city I’ve ever been too has a wonderful huge plaza where people can go to sit and have a drink, chat with their friends or just purchase some local art. I wonder what they use to do back in the day-watch a beheading or two here, listen to Isabel tell Cristobal-hey, here’s some gold, now take your three little boats and go make us famous because eventually our Armada is going to be in the toilets and the English are going to get it all. Yep, in my version of history…that’s what happened here.
Ok, I know what you are thinking-is she ever going to get to the point about said lost ticket. Patience my children, a good story takes a while to tell and an even worse story takes even longer-ask my husband (Right kids, your dad’s stories are long)
Here is where we decide that I have traveled long enough by foot and it’s time for a beer and then hike back to the car and do some drive by shooting as my sister Mary calls it. (Love ya, Sis) We find a nice cafe and take about a 20 minute break to take in the local ambience. Here are a few images from our cerveza break.
This is when we make the discovery that Robert has lost the parking ticket. OMG, how can that happen! Somewhere along the way, probably back at the McDonald’s the ticket mysteriously falls out of said pocket and is lost, perdido, am-scraw, gone! Crud, we are probably going to have to pay a full day’s wage to get out of the “killer” parking lot and I am now a little peeved. Just a little, not much, but maybe a little more that just a little.
Walking back, Robert keeps saying, “I can’t figure out how I lost it, I put it in my pocket…” Duh! BTW, all names have been changed to protect the innocent-NOT! We get to the parking garage and Robert now says, “Kathy, you are going to have to go tell the guy we lost our ticket and we need to get out without paying a fortune to do it” Me: “Why, just because I laughed at you and you lost the ticket, I have to fix this” Robert: “Yes,besides, you are the one who can read the Spanish dictionary and I pissed the guy off” or something to that effect. Kid you not, ladies…this man is a winner! Before trying to figure out how to say the words, we attempt to do our best version of demonstrating that we lost our ticket and we need to get out of the parking garage and we are willing to pay for at least 2 hours and please, have mercy on our poor little American souls. We think the guy gets our message-I think he says something like, bring your car around and we will let you out. Robert drives us around to the place where the little gate is supposed to go up and nothing happens and now we have to figure out how to back up so we don’t stop traffic for a person who didn’t lose their ticket (hint, hint) and here is where I get told that I have to get us out of here…so I get my little conversational Spanish book out and look up two words-ticket (billette) and lost (perdido) or so the dictionary says and walk to the counter and there is a different guy there. Great, the kid was probably getting ready to get off from work and we were not going to be his headache anymore. Thanks, kid, so much for loyalty. I hope you get lost in the United States someday and lose your ticket and can’t get out of a parking garage!
Ok, where was I-oh yea, billette and perdido. So I’m at the counter with my book and say (honest I did say this, this is no lie) “Mi esposo es stupido. El billette para carro is perdido” Now I’m thinking, this guy thinks I am nuts, but I do make him grin ‘cuz I believe I have said “My husband is stupid and our ticket is lost, gone, bye-bye” He gets the point, writes down our license plate number, Robert pays him for two hours and we get the “heck out of Dodge”.
The last few images are of our drive by shooting and the way we ended that afternoon of our Madrid adventure.
This ends the afternoon portion of our story. You say, Kathy, sounds like there is more to the story and you are right! When this last picture was taken it was about 7 in the evening. About two hours later, we would meet up with the American Airlines crew that was out of Dallas and enjoy an evening of dining with them. But those pics are on another camera and as I said before-that’s a story for another post-so take a break, get another cup of coffee, pee, whatever you have to do and come visit us again when we bring you the last installment of Day 1-Madrid-Pub Crawling with the Dallas Crew.